Woman speaks on behalf of camp for disabled By Dan Whisenhunt Staff Writer 03-13-2009 OXFORD Ask Allison Wetherbee a question. She's heard them all.
Allison Wetherbee speaks to the Oxford Kiwanis Club meeting Thursday on behalf of Alabama's Special Camp for Children and Adults. Wetherbee was born in 1970 without any arms or legs. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
The woman from Camden born with no arms and no legs expects them. Wetherbee rolled up to the front of the room at Oxford's Kiwanis Club meeting Thursday, her shoulder working the controls on her electric wheelchair. She was born in 1970. She grew up defying expectations for children with disabilities.
"Back then it was a given that anybody with severe disabilities would be placed in special education," Wetherbee said. Her parents would have none of it. They placed her in regular school. She wrote with a pencil in her mouth. It was a path that would lead her to complete her master's degree in mental health counseling at Auburn University at Montgomery. Wetherbee's parents also did something else for her that would define her life. She went to Alabama's Special Camp for Children and Adults on Lake Martin for 10 years. Today she is the camp's Public Relations Director, speaking on behalf of the camp where she learned to swim and play in a tree house. She says she's not normally confident speaking in public, though she talks with a bright clear voice. "It's easy for me to be a spokesman for Camp ASCCA," Wetherbee said. She's as independent as she can be, but uses special care attendants to help her get around. The camp taught her to be independent and helped put her own disabilities in perspective. Today the camp serves 6,000 to 8,000 children year-round.
"We're the world's largest camp of our kind because of the activities we offer," Wetherbee said. "We offer what you wouldn't be able to do anywhere else for people like me." At the end of her speech, Kiwanis President Susan Miller gave Wetherbee $250 for the camp. Miller works for Children's Rehabilitation Services, a program that has sent many children to ASCCA. "It gives parents time by themselves and makes children more independent," Miller said. Kiwanis member John Rogers, who has a daughter that attended camp ASCCA, called Wetherbee "really motivational." "It's just a testament to what you can do," he said. "She's proof we don't have it all that bad."